SEVERAL West Australian Football League (WAFL) clubs have recruited former AFL-listed players in a bid to end Peel Thunder’s two-year premiership winning era.
Headlining a raft of signings for 2018 are former Carlton players Rhys Palmer and Blaine Boekhorst. Delisted after playing only one game for the Blues, Palmer will look to re-launch his footballing career with Swan Districts as an inside midfielder, with the Black Ducks seeking to improve on their fourth-place finish in 2017.
In a coincidental twist, Boekhorst turned his back on former-club Swan Districts, instead signing with Palmer’s original club, East Fremantle. Boekhorst’s 25-game AFL career ended in disappointment after the former first round draft pick was unable to win another contract despite impressing in his final two games of 2017. The speedy 24 year-old will add fantastic depth to a Sharks’ midfield that is in desperate need of quality ball users.
Subiaco has also recruited strongly by adding two former Fremantle Dockers in ruckman Zac Clarke and inside midfielder Josh Deluca. Clarke, who played 101 games at AFL level, will add a wealth of experience to the Lions’ midfield brigade, with coach Jarrad Schofield hoping that Clarke’s 203cm height and athletic prowess will give the Lion’s midfield first use. A premiership player with the Lions in 2014 before being drafted, Deluca will compliment the Lions’ contested ball winning mentality in their push for a third successive grand final.
Peel Thunder have pulled off a remarkable off season signing by luring former Essendon midfielder Ben Howlett. A former best and fairest winner at club, Howlett is a handy addition to the two-time reigning premier’s already impressive list, with the Fremantle-aligned side looking to draw on all of Howlett’s 124 games of AFL experience.
East Perth have secured former Collingwood premiership player and West Coast half-back Sharrod Wellingham. After a 171 game career (92 with Collingwood and 79 with West Coast), the Royals will look to use Wellingham’s great ball use and leadership skills in continuing their alignment with the Eagles.
Former Fremantle midfielder Nick Suban won’t be leaving Fremantle Oval after signing with South Fremantle. The former North Ballarat Rebel has opted against returning to his home state, joining last year’s runner-up minor premiers. Suban will be a welcome replacement for the Bulldogs after star midfielder Tim Kelly was snapped up by Geelong in the recent AFL National Draft.
Ex-Fremantle forward Shane Yarran has also been sighted at Subiaco training recently, but is yet to officially sign following release from his six-month jail sentence.
Other notable signings:
East Fremantle: Jarrad Jansen (Brisbane Lions), Cameron Loersch (Gold Coast Suns), Jordan Snadden (West Coast Eagles), Jonathan Griffin (Fremantle Dockers)
East Perth: Tom Gorter (West Coast Eagles)
Perth: Matthew Taylor (North Melbourne)